Chuck Espinoza Photography

Los Angeles Based Freelance Photographer.

Shooting medium format

February 3, 2014

I get it. I finally see what all the fuss is about. I got the film back from my first shoot and I love the quality of the Mamiya files. I say files because despite me shooting film I’m paying for the lab to develop and provide large Hi Res scans. The scans have a beautiful soft quality. Because of the softness, skin looks milky and soft; so much so that skin looks good without retouching.

The following images were shot during a shoot with Claire Dellamar. Since it was my first time out with the Mamiya I used the 5D to get me to a place where I was confident that I had a shot worthy of film. When it’s all said and done each shot on the Mamiya costs me ~$3.50. In the grand scheme a couple bucks isn’t much money but at $35 a roll the figures start to grow pretty quickly. Each roll of 120mm film on;y gives me ten shots.

With Claire on the stairs I knew I had something special. The light was great, Claire looked great and I had found a rhythm and knew it was worth shooting film. The downfall is that because of my inexperience with the Mamiya coupled with the manual features of the camera my rhythm came to a screeching halt. I have to stop, take a meter reading, take out the dark slide, bend over and look down instead of at Claire, focus manually, cock the shutter, compose the shot, double check focus and then take the shot.  That’s a lot of steps for one shot. In that same amount of time I could have taken a handful of shots with my 5D.

I’m feel like I’m cheating by using the 5D. When I look at all ten shots I feel that the roll was a success. Had I gone out with a roll of film and only had ten opportunities to get great shots I wonder if the proof sheet would have looked so great. (my feeling is no).  Then again had I started shooting medium format years ago I would be burning through $10/pack polaroid instead  of the 120 film.  Digital has provided me with so many opportunities to learn and make incredible photos. In the eleven years I have been shooting on a DSLR I’ve shot hundreds of thousands of frames. In addition to shooting that much I’ve also sat in front of a computer and reviewed each and every image and leaned from my experience. If I were paying $35 for each roll of film I wouldn’t be the photographer I am today.

I’m enjoying the Mamiya. It’s giving me a fresh outlook on photography and it’s motivating to create.

*Processing and scanning by Richard Photo Lab.
Mamiya RZ67 and Kodat TX400


Claire Shot with Canon 5D Mark III, default black and White conversion in Adobe Photoshop CC
Shot with Canon 5D Mark III, default black and White conversion in Adobe Photoshop CC


The first three shots were taken in the studio before we left for the location. I wanted to try using the Mamiya with my strobes and for the first shot the flash didn’t fire. Boom, I just threw $3.50 in the trash.

Kodak 400TX proof sheet – shot with Mamiya RZ67


These images show the huge difference in quality when you zoom in.




Kodak 400TX
Kodak 400TX

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